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Fond memories of Mr Mattishall

PUBLISHED: 15:04 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 15:23 07 July 2010

Tributes have been paid to a man described as "one of Mattishall's best known, respected and loved village characters."

Eighty-nine-year-old Russell Smith, of Welgate Close, died in hospital on September 9 after suffering serious injuries in a crash at Brandon Parva on September 5.

Tributes have been paid to a man described as “one of Mattishall's best known, respected and loved village characters.”

Eighty-nine-year-old Russell Smith, of Welgate Close, died in hospital on September 9 after suffering serious injuries in a crash at Brandon Parva on September 5.

“Russell was Mattishall and Mattishall was everything to Russell,” said Ray Taylor, who runs the village website.

“If you wanted to know anything about this area or Mattishall's past he was the 'oracle' he could not only give you facts but he would embroider the enquiry with many a story. He had a remarkable memory. The stories would often be told with a little twinkle in his eye and a nudge, nudge, wink, wink! On many occasion he would pull open his little old suitcase and present an old picture or newspaper cutting to back it up.”

Mr Smith was born in Mattishall on October 29 1919. He was a popular pupil of the village school and a member of the school and village football teams.

When he left school he followed in the footsteps of his father Charles and went to work for motor transport and threshing contractors AJ Farrow of Mattishall. He stayed with the company, which was later taken over by Walpole and Wright, until he retired in 1984.

He married his late wife Madge Brend on October 4 1961, and he thought the world of his step-daughter Gillian Terry, his two grand-children and five great-grandchildren.

Mrs Terry said: “He was such a generous man who was kind to everybody. He was a wonderful step-father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be missed by everyone.”

Mr Smith was very active in the Mattishall community. He attended almost every event and meeting within the village and was a member of most of Mattishall's clubs.

Fred Garner, who had known Mr Smith for about 40 years, said: “Russell was a very pleasant, knowledgeable man, who was always very generous and had so many friends.”

Mr Smith's great-grandfather William Horne bought the decommissioned Duke of Edinburgh public house (now known as Edinburgh House) in 1896 and went on to sell the front of his Mattishall property to the Methodists so they could build a church in 1900. His aunt Emily Horne also gave some land so that the Methodists could build a stable which is now the church rooms.

It was at this Methodist Church that nearly 200 people gathered on Tuesday for a special thanksgiving service for Mr Smith.

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